Karl Kapp is a longtime friend of this blog. His first comment was on a post comparing Second Life to World of Warcraft for educational purposes, way back in 2007, and his blog, Kapp Notes, has been on my blogroll ever since. Dr. Kapp is a full professor of instructional technology over at Bloomsburg University, and is a prominent thought leader and author in the field.
One of the things several researchers in educational gaming picked up on early was the facilitation immersive worlds featuring human-like avatars offered for teaching and learning. This idea has come to be generally termed “3D learning,” because the virtual gaming worlds in which it takes place are rendered in three dimensional graphics. It feels like you are in the world instead of simply playing a board game.
It seems to be a powerful learning tool, and has attracted a lot of attention from educational researchers. Perhaps, researchers suspect, there is something to the notion of transference, where players feels like they are experiencing what their avatar in the 3D virtual world is going through and go on to transfer knowledge from that virtual world to real life applications. Perhaps it is conducive to Csíkszentmihályi’s flow theory, where time becomes irrelevant in the pursuit of passionate tasks. Regardless, it’s an intriguing idea that researchers continue to investigate.
Karl Kapp’s latest book, co-authored with Tony O’Driscoll, explores the ramifications of teaching and learning within these immersive virtual environments. Aptly titled, Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration, provides a blueprint for corporate and educational professional development personnel when embarking on efforts to include this type of training in their organizations. Recently, Dr. Kapp made a digital preview of the book available to several bloggers, and embarked on a “virtual book tour.” I was honored to be included on the list, and found the book to be impressive.
I think one of the key contributions to the field this book makes is its insistence that 3D learning is a valid and valuable tool for both corporations and universities. For instance, the whole idea of role playing within virtual 3D environments is supported and reinforced in the book. Business personnel have long known the value of role playing within training regimens. I recall a conversation with someone familiar with the training program for the sales force of a Fortune 100 company. An artificial office environment was created, complete with cameras and recording equipment. The trainee would enter the office and attempt to sell the company’s products to another employee posing as a potential client. Trainers would later review the recordings and help the trainee hone techniques. This entire process is greatly facilitated through 3D virtualization, as the book makes clear.
On an entirely selfish note, I was glad to see the acronym “VIE” included, something I introduced to the field in 2007 in an article in the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. I called it a virtual interactive environment, while Kapp and O’Driscoll use it to mean virtual immersive environment. Regardless, it amounts to the same thing, and I’m glad to see the idea spread. Education and corporations can use a lot more VIEs.